By Mitchell Reiss
Reuters has the story:
The European Union has made a gesture towards accepting a Palestinian unity government that could include Hamas, a move it hopes can help heal a rift between the Islamists and their Western-backed rivals, Fatah.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, speaking to reporters in Jerusalem on Wednesday, used new language to describe the conditions under which the bloc would be prepared to work with a new coalition, should Hamas and Fatah manage to agree to one….
Instead of spelling out three long-standing conditions, also adopted by the United States, that Hamas must renounce violence, recognise Israel and accept existing interim peace accords, Solana said only that a new Palestinian government that included Hamas should commit to pursuing a two-state solution.
Perhaps Solana was misquoted, perhaps he was selectively quoted. Otherwise, he surely must have known that this statement undercuts the new president and secretary of state, who only days ago repeated publicly the three conditions for the United States engaging with Hamas: renounce violence, respect previous agreements, and pace Reuters, not "recognize Israel" diplomatically, but simply accept Israel’s right to exist.
More broadly, Solana’s statement sends a signal to those in the region, including Iran, that the Europeans will always look for the lowest common denominator when negotiations get difficult rather than adhering to commonly agreed principles. This message also undermines those in the region, especially other Palestinians, who are trying to moderate Hamas’s extremist positions. It is far more likely to prolong conflict, not shorten it.